A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Marks of a pretend victim versus a true victim

UPDATE  Sept 2021:  I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches.  He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.


[July 8, 2022: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]

Abusers usually portray themselves as victims, as most of our readers are well aware. Are there any distinguishing marks of a pretend victim as opposed to a true victim of domestic abuse?

I began thinking about this because of a comment that one of our readers, Nyssa, made in another post. Here’s what she said:

….In my own writings about the abuse I’ve experienced from friends and from ex’s, I go into a lot of detail, get angry, and do a lot of research into such things as abuse and personality disorders….I don’t normally mention PDs [Personality Disorders] when talking to most people. But when I write about abusive experiences in memoir, I pour everything in, all the details I can think of, along with trying to figure out what drives a person to act like that, quotes from my research which describe common abusive behaviors, to help others recognize for themselves what is abuse and what is normal.

I have a strong will and figure I just don’t deserve what I got; I get very angry when I get abused. I believe that’s why my abusive ex finally left, because I refused to just accept that I deserved it. But when I speak about being abused, I’m not making it up, I’m not the actual abuser slandering the victim, I’m opening up about what really happened and how it makes me feel. I hope that these comments / blogs are not saying that if you’re angry, if you’ve done a lot of research into personality disorders and do know family history and have good reason to think disorders are at play, that it automatically labels you as the abuser playing the victim. In my case, the anger is part of the detachment / healing process and a natural response to being abused, and learning about PDs [Personality Disorders] has reassured me that I did not deserve what I got.

I found Nyssa’s comments quite thought provoking. Here are my reflections so far.

When a person says “I’ve been abused, and I’m angry about having been abused!” that is not necessarily a sign that they are falsely playing the victim. Like Nyssa, I believe that anger is part of the detachment / healing process. When a victim gets in touch with their anger and channels it to assist their recovery or to raise community awareness about abuse and so help with prevention, that is a good and healthy sign. It shows the victim is making an excellent recovery, in my opinion.

Perhaps we need to further refine our articulation of the marks of abuserese versus the language of genuine victims. I guess that for me, one way I can distinguish between a perpetrator playing the victim, and a genuine victim recounting their story, is as follows.

A genuine victim initially expresses lots of confusion and self-doubt: “Am I the one at fault?” – “What is going on here?” – “I don’t think my spouse is abusing me.” – “I’ve tried everything I can to improve my marriage, but I must be missing something because nothing I’ve tried seems to work.” – etc.

This bewilderment gradually shifts into “I think that maybe I am being abused.” Sometimes this shift is precipitated by the victim reading a good definition of what constitutes abuse. The information switches on the light-bulb for the victim.

At this stage, many victims do an intensive search to learn more about abuse, trying to understand WHY the abuser behaves the way he / she does. Sometimes, the research process may lead the survivor to literature about personality disorders, as it did with Nyssa.

As this research quest leads to material that labels the abuse as the problem (rather than blaming the victim), the victim begins to express more anger and outrage. This is a good sign of progress in recovery. Recovery isn’t simply about becoming angry, but when self-blame and shame are dispelled, healthy anger can come to the surface because anger is an appropriate response to injustice. Such healthy anger can then be channeled into social change and advocacy for other victims.

That’s what I’ve observed in the typical language of genuine victims as they move from the fog into recovery and healing.

Now I’ll outline what I see as the typical language of perpetrators who claim to be victims.

They don’t express the initial bewilderment and fog stage while the marriage is intact. They only start to talk about problems in the marriage when their spouse (their victim) institutes separation. Then the wail goes up: “My wife just walked out on me with no notice! I’m devastated!” The guy from Amazon who Jeff quoted in the post that Nyssa was commenting on seemed to fit that type (paraphrasing): “My wife read that book and then called it quits on our marriage!”

I submit that the complainant’s supposed shock at the marriage suddenly ending is a mark that the complainant was an abuser. In abusive marriages the suffering (true victim) spouse will have tried over and over to explain his or her unhappiness to their partner in an attempt to improve the marriage. But abusers brush off all these attempts and / or twist them back so as to blame the victim and exonerate themselves.

So if I’m right, distinguishing mark #1 of a false claim is the suddenness of the complaint that is made when the other spouse takes drastic action to try to put a wall up against the abuse: “My spouse ended our marriage and I had no idea there was anything wrong with it!”

And conversely, distinguishing mark #1 of a true claim is that the genuine victim takes some drastic action of boundary-setting after having expressed fog-like bewilderment over a period of time, and given hints and waved “help” flags signalling that the marriage was in strife. Along with this, the true victim may read things to try to understand why their abuser acts the way he (or she) acts. This research process will not have been limited to so-called Fathers’ Rights Groups sites. It will probably range widely across materials that deal with abuse from various perspectives.

So what is distinguishing mark #2?

  • It isn’t the sheer fact that the complainant expresses anger. True victims express anger when they are well on the road to recovery. Both real victims and pretend victims can express anger.
  • Nor is it the fact that the complainant talks about their partner having a mental health problem. Some victims (such as Nyssa) and counselors talk about abusers having personality disorders like narcissism or sociopathy. And readers here know that many abusers claim their spouse is ‘crazy’ or has a personality disorder (borderline personality disorder is the most common label they seem to slap on their victims).

The one common denominator of all destructive relationships
Your spouse doesn’t take responsibility for his behavior.

(Natalie Klejwa)

Are there some other marks by which we can tell the claims of a true victim from the claims of a pretend victim?

[July 8, 2022: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to July 8, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to July 8, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to July 8, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now July 8, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]


Further reading for pastors, counselors, and friends and supporters of victims

The language of abusers who portray themselves as victims

How to spot an abuser who claims to be a victim

How easy is it to spot an abuser when he is both Jekyll and Hyde?

Defining domestic abuse by a list of behaviors is never going to capture it

Let her be angry

Further reading for genuine victims of domestic abuse

Anger, hatred, vengeance: – am I feeling them? are my feelings wrong?

Abuse and Anger: Is it a Sin to Be Angry Toward Our Abuser?

My abuser says I am the abuser! Am I? 

Bitterness and Righteous Anger: How to Tell the Difference

Vengeance and vindication: what is the difference?

Abuse Victims Must Take Care Lest They Become Abusive

When Anger is Godly


  1. Oops I accidentally published this post before it was meant to go out. Never mind. I know we’ve been really busy with the Piper post, and dear Meg, our much valued Editor and publishing gate-keeper, just published Jeff S’s new post on Miracles. So we can just sit on this one of mine for a while, and get to it whenever we wish to. Meg was tracking correctly; I was off in la la land.

    • anewfreelife

      Me, too, Barnabas! I went to counseling a year ago, and my counselor talked to me about anger. I assured her that I wasn’t angry. She assured me, “Oh, you will get angry at some point.” It seemed odd to me at that time to experience anger. Hurt, betrayed, profoundly sad, scared, anxiety ridden–yes. Angry? No. However, lately I have found myself cycling between a depressive hopelessness and an intense, energizing anger. I had court today, and I’m just totally ticked off. I mean, I’m ready to write letters, travel to appear before the legislature, the whole nine yards. I have just had it with injustice, and I’m ready to face them head on and really FIGHT. I’m truly fighting mad. It has taken me a long time to get here though, and I still end up feeling so guilty over it that I turn it inward and spiral downward into depression. In contrast, my husband is quick to anger and has never shown remorse or guilt over anything.

      I think guilt and remorse may be another sign, which kind of go along with Barb’s self doubt. I see them differently only in that self doubt is questioning where remorse is certain. My self doubt sounds like, “Was there something more I could have done to protect my kids? Or, save my marriage?” My remorse sounds like, “I feel horrible that I didn’t leave my abuser years ago and that I subjected my children to his abuse by staying. I can’t sleep at night thinking about what my poor kids went through.” When people accuse me or confront me, saying insensitive things, I may get angry and feel attacked and like I want to defend myself, but I also may cower and just accept their ugly words. Conversely, my abuser’s first and forever response is self-justifying. Even with all of the facts presented, he will twist it to protect his perfect reasoning and excuses and do so in an overtly angry way. Every. Single. Time.

      I, too, have been devouring everything I can on narcissism and psychopathy. I want to understand him. He visited the kids yesterday and they said that he and his mother were both strangely nice. I was able to point them to the abuse wheel and show them that is the set up phase. It helps us to ward off future attacks by knowing what might motivate him or what the patterns are for his particular “disorder,” i.e., evil.

      • anewfreelife

        Ooh, my brain is firing off! Barb, or anyone else, what about difficulty in accepting help? People keep trying to help me, but I feel like a mooch so I refuse a lot of offers or argue, trying to get people to not help me. Conversely, R is running around seeing how much he can get from everyone who feels sorry for him.

        Or, self-exploration? I’ve become almost obsessed with discovering my tastes and my preferences since I’ve been told what I liked for so long. I’m dressing a little different. I wear my hair a little different. He, however, is business as usual because he confidently knows himself and what he likes and has never been one to mince words demanding his preferences. I’ve seen it with the women in my support group, too. Give everyone about two months and the make up changes. It may just be a new lipstick shade, but there is a sense of adventure there in their new found freedom. A year and a half later my abuser’s clothes, car, hair cut, everything is still the same as the day he left.

        How about just the look of weariness due to the insomnia and nightmares? A fake victim isn’t going to have those signs at all.

      • Jeff Crippen

        A family member who suffered at the hands of a narcissist for years has moved from pain, depression, sleeplessness — to anger. Not a vengeance-seeking hatred, but an anger that sees the injustice and evil of what was done to them. And guess what? It is quite obvious that they have moved toward healing in this step.

      • Barnabasintraining

        Oh ANFL! If anyone has a right to be angry right now it’s you. I’ve been to your blog and read there. E gads!! You have been put through it. 😦

        In fact, it is not only the abuse victim I know personally but what’s happened to all of you around here that gets me going. I get so angry at the church! Why can’t they see this??

        As far as delayed anger for the victim, I’m thinking of that like frost bite. When the feeling comes back it hurts a lot, I understand. I think the anger is kind of like that, the feelings coming back like they’re supposed to. Just like pain is a good sign in frost bite recovery (I trust someone will correct that if it’s wrong) anger is a good sign in emotional recovery.

      • Barnabasintraining

        Or, self-exploration? I’ve become almost obsessed with discovering my tastes and my preferences since I’ve been told what I liked for so long. I’m dressing a little different. I wear my hair a little different. He, however, is business as usual because he confidently knows himself and what he likes and has never been one to mince words demanding his preferences. I’ve seen it with the women in my support group, too. Give everyone about two months and the make up changes. It may just be a new lipstick shade, but there is a sense of adventure there in their new found freedom.

        That is definitely good! 😀

      • Still scared

        I also got told I was angry and I was sure I wasn’t , then I got to the anger. When I got angry I was told and thought I was wrong to be angry. Led me to Scripture and I studied. Anger is not wrong, God gets angry! How can anger be a sin if God gets angry? He burns against injustice and unrighteousness. So when I am angry…( not even going to waste my time still frustrated that the one really bad counselor told me I was wrong to compare my anger with God’s anger because I had a part to play in the injustice of the marriage, still a wee bit upset that she thought I couldn’t study the Bible on my own and hear the truth!) When I am angry , I am not angry just to be angry like the abuser, quick to get angry and rail against everything and point fingers in all directions but at himself. I get angry at injustice, unfairness, I do say who is to blame but I have also self examine and try to not get bitter and vent for a bit then go on. For example, the idiot filed a criminal charge against me because I am supposedly “refusing visitation” with one of my sons who has panic attacks just being near his dad. ( the son in question is an older teen) . I have to defend my self to a judge for following the counselors'( three professionals) recommendations, saying it would be detrimental to my son if I were to force it. Add to the fact no one has come up with a physical way to force someone taller and heavier than me to do something he can’t do. I let the other kids visit him. But no, not listened to and I was scared and angry. The state needed to delay the trial to “get documentation” and draw it out for my poor son. One of my other kids was angry but had been listening to him and said ” Well, part of it is your fault, mom.” “Umm, no, what part? ” , My child said” Well you agreed to go to court” . The child had been told I had a choice!! ANGER!! Injustice, falsehood !
        ANFL– you have it much worse! Praying for you!!!

    • Barnabasintraining

      Well Barbara, do you mind if I comment on this one now? Because, as a helper who is beginning to experience what I think is probably best termed second hand abuse of sorts from various abuser allies (how’s that for complicated?), I find I am quite angry at this point in time. I don’t really have anything to say beyond that, except I’m actually relieved you got to anger just now, however accidentally.

      • Glad my mis-timing is helping you, BIT!
        Maybe ‘secondary abuse’ is the word for what you are going through.
        The primary abuse is the abusive spouse does to his or her victim(s).
        Secondary abuse is what the abuser’s allies do to the victim and the victim’s supporters.

        When my daughter was abused by her father, I applied on her behalf (because she was underage) for crimes compensation (= money awarded by the government to compensate victims of crime). She was able to apply for compensation because she was the primary victim. I was not allowed to apply because I was only a secondary victim – that’s the terminology they used.

      • “now fog makes me angry”

        Well done, BIT! You cannot be blinded by fog any more. You are alert to it as soon as it starts creeping in, and you refuse to let it be-numb you. That’s terrific!

      • Jeff Crippen

        BIT – Anger means clarity. When we are confused and in that fog of deception abusers like to spin, we have too many doubts to be angry and to hunger and thirst for justice and righteousness. But when clarity comes, so does that righteous anger.

      • Barnabasintraining

        Well you know what’s funny, Jeff? As soon as that fog machine starts going I start getting angry. I guess somewhere along the line in my own life I learned to recognize the feeling or mental sense that fogging creates and now it’s like Pavlov’s dogs. Fog makes me angry.

        How’s that?

      • Jeff Crippen

        That is great 🙂

      • MeganC

        I went through a very angry stage, too, BIT. I wrote a blog on my personal site called “Angry Chick”. I think some people were worried because it took me a while to show my anger….or to allow myself to BE angry! I had been taught (for years) that anger was sin and that I wasn’t allowed to be. I got a lot of positive emails from people, telling me it is normal to feel the anger. (I also got a lot of emails chastising me for being angry.) After I wrote it and thought on it and FELT the anger….after a while, it went away and I felt clarity coming on.

      • joepote01

        Anger is also a natural part of the grieving process…an inherent part of processing the losses (which are many in the case of abuse) and learning to accept reality for what it is rather than what we wish it was.

      • Just Me

        BIT – Thank you for putting that into words. I also find myself angry when the fog comes back. I get overwhelmed with anxiety. Often times, I feel the anxiety before I even realize what I’m anxious about. I’m in it right now, and the last few days have been hard.

      • Barnabasintraining

        (((((((Just Me)))))))

      • Round*Two

        Anger was thrown back in my face by my abuser, he twisting it and saying I was abusing him. There were no threats nor physical violence. Only anger in my voice. Anger because he twisted everything, anger because he denied any abuse had happened, anger because he openly lies, anger because he tells me that I am NOT serving the Lord (his opinion, of course), anger because he is the head of the household (and we all know how they love to twist that one!)….on and on. Yes, I am angry…
        Please keep sharing your stories, thoughts and comments! This has been a real eye opener!

  2. MeganC

    I’m with BIT. I am so glad you hit that publish button. This is very encouraging to me today for many reasons. And I think you are absolutely right — your observations are spot on. I am ticking the box to see if anyone adds anything to this post and I will be thinking about anything else that would identify a false victim. Really good, Barb.

  3. Paula

    1) False victims brush off accusations of having a disordered mind (e.g., marked NPD or BPD behavior traits) with a chuckle and counter the claims with “She must be really crazy to insinuate such a thing.” (Or, like Peter Cook, they embrace the labels such as narcissist and claim it makes them better parents. Talk about delusional!!!)

    Real victims convince themselves they actually ARE afflicted with a personality disorder.

    2) False victims always blame the real victim. False victims don’t oscillate between denial, anger, or pity. False victims go straight to anger and blame.

    Real victims blame themselves FIRST, the abuser second, and then struggle with having pity for their abuser. Real victims often return and struggle with self-blame and shame.

    3) False victims tell half stories. “She yells at me all the time and ignores me when I talk to her.”

    Real victims always have stories that reflect a cause and effect scenario: “He would steal my phone to check my text and call history. I felt like it was an invasion and his accusations were insulting. I would beg and plead with him to stop, and I often lashed out at him when it was clear he refused and disrespected my privacy. Defending myself never ended well or resolved anything. I found myself retreating and shutting down after a while. Talking to him only frustrated me, so I avoided it.”

    • Jeff Crippen

      Nice Paula. Very good insights. Right on.

    • Excellent, Paula. Thank you.

    • MeganC

      Paula — truth.

      • Memphis Rayne

        haha i just thought of something else, im not sure why this makes me laugh…..the MIW gave me this letter some girl had wrote him….she went on and on about how she wished she was the one in his central life….blah blah….very intimate letter….of course at the time I was devastated but in his mental abusive thinking he gave it to me- a)To hurt me b)Because he enjoyed letting me know somebody else wanted him c) So he could continure keeping me off balance in in a state of trauma.
        Obviously he had been having a relationshiip without my knowing with this person. I gave the letter to a pastor, who let him explain the letter to him…..lol it went like this:

        The MIW: ” She is just an old friend who has gotten herself into a bad lifestyle, I felt it was my duty to witness to her, like Christ would do? Ya know she had nobody else?””

        The girl also claimed that “”IF I were not so controlling of him that at least he could have ONE friend in his life””

        The MIW also would tell his family members the same shiz “”All i wanna do is go fishing once in awhile but she never lets me”” they all treated me as if I was keepin HIM under lock and key!!!! Polar opposite!!!!

        Abuser are all such gifted spin doctors, keeping everyone else at war, and as long as there is this state of confusion, their purpose is served. All they have to do is put a shadow of a doubt in an allies mind about you and they feel like they have won, or in their thinking they have “”stuck it to you””

        The pastors just threw the letter away and said “”He is sorry move on!” yet they always seem so suspicious of me, always leaving the question open as to whether or not I was the faithful party!!! Yep its sick.

    • Katy

      Ohh I’m late to this post but want to say this is an excellent catalog of the differences. I was convinced I had a personality disorder – and he never wavered that everything was my fault.
      I want to add: one of the things that struck me was the way the abuser talked to other people about the divorce. They express that they were “blindsided”, had no idea that they had done anything to “Deserve” it etc etc. I caught my ex on facebook reconnecting with an old girlfriend, in which he stated “well I think that I was just working too much, and didn’t focus enough on the marriage” — I seriously fell off my chair, I was so shocked at the audacity and brazen falsehood! lol

      Here is another good example. My husband had a good friend that he played sports with. This man was divorced with 2 children. I asked my husband “Why is Edward divorced?” – he said “Edward said that his wife went on vacation with a friend of hers, and when she came back she told him she wanted a divorce – it was totally out of the blue and he couldn’t understand it”.

      I thought that was a rather suspicious story. It turned out later that Edward got himself a new wife off of EHarmony. Not long into the marriage he choked his new wife and she threw him out. My husband remarked to me that “Edward and I have the same issues. At least he stopped himself and didn’t choke her to death.”

      That’s when I started being suspicious of any divorced man who gave a story like “well my wife just blindsided me, she just decided she was unhappy and left” – I never believe a man who gives very general, foggy descriptions like that.

      • MeganC

        Katy — that is a really great point. I am watching a man do this very thing on FB right now. He left his wife and made her life miserable. Yet, all over his timeline, he is expressing shock that his wife is divorcing him. He is highly mentally abusive to her and yet is gathering a small force who are sympathizing with him because “the divorce just came out of nowhere!”

      • Katy

        Yep – Facebook is a new weapon for abusers. They can network so much faster and easier now, gathering themselves a sympathetic army within days. Add to that the internet dating scene, where they can easily troll for new victims.
        The age of the internet has not been all good, that’s for sure. I have removed myself from Facebook and I refuse to join dating websites (although since I’m not looking for a new husband that decision wasn’t hard)
        I see those environments as rife with abuse and people trolling to hurt others. It doesn’t seem all that “friendly” to me. I may be overly pessimistic. but….

      • Memphis Rayne

        My kids made friends with a little girl who we met while with her Dad. He sat me down to tell me how he felt robbed that he had to pay money to his ex through divorce….Im like hmmm?

        Then he proceeded with how this has somehow victomized him due to how unfair it was that he had to pay her the money she deserved. I shut him down very quickly with “Well if its going to your daughter and her mother then why does that rub you the wrong way? You just proffessed you would do anything for your daughter?” He NEVER talked about his ex again around us. He wasnt finding sympathy with me! I have heard the same storys that my MIW told everybody when he would claim I was just some money hungry woman, and the whole routine of “She cheated, or I suspect she cheats because she doesnt care for me or my needs at all”” his biggest whine was “”Im sooooo lonely”” with the added boo boo face.

        With the MIW he had different story lines for different people, if you were inside the church he would cry about his grief over his sin and wrong doings…for sympathy of course. of course he complained to them that I refuse to bring the children to church!!!! Then outside he would cling to his storys most people hear, like “”she cheated on me, she wont let me see my kids, she spent all my money, she is NEVER around, I try so hard but she is un responsive, she is cold and fridged”

      • Still Scared( but getting angry)

        What an excellent point! Very true!

      • Katy

        hahaha I was told that I was cold and frigid as well Memphis. 🙂 Of course, I knew why I had no interest in sex. Terror will do that to a woman.

      • me too. I was told I was frigid — and went to a counselor to ‘fix me up’ — and when the counseling failed to fix me up, guess who got the blame?

      • Jodi

        my frigidity was more implied than outright stated, as were most things so he could always claim “I never said that”.

      • Yeah Jodi, your abuser was exceptionally skilled at gaslighting and the kind of ever-so-subtle emotional abuse that is virtually invisible.

      • Jodi

        You nailed it Barbara! No one does innocent and guileless like he does which makes his cruelty and coldness even more frightening.

    • His banner over me is love

      Very good point Paula.

  4. Jeff S

    In Townswend and Cloud’s book “Boundaries” they say that anger is a warning sign that tells us our boundaries are being violated.

    Interestingly enough, in my own recollection I have not felt much in the way of anger toward my ex (there ARE a few memorable times). Scared? Yes. Uncomfortable? Yes. Devalued? Yes. But mostly I must admit I feel very, very sorry for her. Because I know that I will live, and she never will. As much as I was hurt, I still care about her enough to want her to be happy. I can and did escape. I cannot wish for anyone to live inside the prison she is in 😦

    I know Barbara and Jeff say it’s a mistake to feel sorry, but I believe they mean playing into the crocodile tears (I could be wrong). I set boundaries and I don’t try to fix her, but I can’t help but weep for her.

    And I too have done the PD research.

    • Jeff S, I understand how your pity for your abuser is different from the unhealthy, re-entrapping ‘feeling sorry for the abuser’. (terrible sentence, sorry.)

      I wonder how much you have the ‘luxury’ of feeling pity for your ex because she isn’t engaging in heaps of post-separation abuse?

      Also, I think your ex probably really does have a personality disorder (or three?). And because of that, it is legitimate to feel pity for her inasmuch as she is trapped in her own prison.

      • Jeff S

        “I wonder how much you have the ‘luxury’ of feeling pity for your ex because she isn’t engaging in heaps of post-separation abuse?”

        Absolutely true, and good to point out.

        And thanks for acknowledging the legitimacy of feeling pity.

  5. Jeff S

    The only caution I will say about is discussion is we have to be careful when we make lists to recognize there are no absolute behaviors here. Abusive people can learn and mimic whatever they need to to get what they want, while victims can take many shapes and sizes too.

    Seeing and relating to these lists that people are making is helpful and healing for me because I relate to much of it- however, sometimes the traits are the opposite (my ex embraced her mental health diagnosis and then used it to justify her actions, for example).

    I was going to say the one absolute trait of a victim would be honesty, but I don’t even think that’s true. I spent so much time entangled in lies I told myself and others just to be able to believe we were normal, and I remember that coming back to haunt me: “You told us everything was fine- we believed you!”

    The real difference between and abuser and victim is always the goal. Is it a goal of getting what the person is entitled to, or is the goal about a desire to live in peace? And I must admit, I’m not really good a figuring out goals based on what people say. I respect Barbara and Jeff so much for their ability to tell what drives people. I just always want to believe the best in everyone 😦

    • Aw, Jeff! You’re cute!

      … however, sometimes the traits are the opposite (my ex embraced her mental health diagnosis and then used it to justify her actions, for example)

      I don’t think you are as alone as you might think in respect of that trait in your ex.
      Memphis, Jodi and Megan have been talking at another post about how their ex-es would repeatedly admit and confess their abusiveness, in order to win admiration and respect from bystanders. The convo starts in the last paragraph of this comment by Memphis [Internet Archive link].

  6. Healinginprocess

    Barbara your first distinguishing mark is right on point. It took me a long time before I realized the hurt, frustration, anger, bitterness, resentment and depression were coming from abuse…verbal and mental abuse, it wasn’t until it became physical that I began to realize. I then with the help of a dear friend began to research abuse…reading Lundy’s book, and going to a support group. I am now reading Jeff’s book. My husband on the other hand was totally surprised that I was sooo unhappy or that we were experiencing trouble in our marriage. He was surprised when I moved out and eventually divorced him. He has gained allies along the way. I am the abusive one, I left the marriage and do not want to reconcile, I have hurt him tremendously. He also tells people I never communiate with him and that was what really hurt our marriage. That is not entirely accurate I tried for a long time it was never heard. After a while I did stop communicating because it fell on deaf ears so it was not worth wasting my breath. He still tries to reach me and see if I will work on our relationship despite the divorce. When I say no he lashes out at me and attacks me verbally. I know his allies don’t see this side of him…he only lets them see a hurt man who is trying to forgive his exwife and restore the marriage and she is unforgiving. He even went to the pastor of my church and now I am the one on the outside as I was asked to leave the church because I divorced my husband on grounds that were not biblical and I will not try to restore the marriage. He is now going to my church since he is sooo heart broken and wants to restore the marriage but I refuse. My ex, called and told me he spoke to the pastor and told him not to make me leave the church. My ex said he was hurt and angry when he heard the pastor told me to leave. He was so hurt and angry that he now goes there. I told him his words did not line up with his actions. Something I think is quite typical of abusers atleast in my case. Maybe a 2nd distinguishing mark would be they tell everyone how hurt and distrought they are over their spouse leaving them and they have tried everything so salvage things. They are even forgiving their unforgiving spouse who continually hurts them with their unforgiveness. The abusers paint themselves as a noble person trying to work things out with an unforgiving, uncaring, hurtful person. Which is totally the opposite. The abused person is trying to stay way to protect herself and to begin to heal. She does not continually badger her abuser like the abuser does her. Abusers don’t try to stay away from the abused so they can protect themselves or heal…they continue to badger and try
    to be in relationship with their abused spouse.

    • anewfreelife

      Oh, excellent point! They do hound us afterward, whether trying to get back together or using the courts to persecute us and hurt us. They just can’t let go and move on with life. Whereas, we are desperately trying constantly to recoil. We’ll walk away from everything financial and material to just get away.

      • I have read quite a few times in the DV literature that one of the differences between male perpetrators and female perpetrators of domestic abuse is that male perps generally commit lots of post separation abuse, whereas female perps tend not to. I know there are some exceptions (like Martin’s case with his ex-wife deliberately driving her car into him, and causing a great scene at his workplace) but I gather they are relatively rare.

      • MeganC

        YES! That is excellent, Healing! My ex hounded me up until recently (it is trailing off). I suspect that he will quickly move on now….maybe even re-marry (poor girl) but spend the rest of his life as a martyr. (“I tried everything to get her back….”) STALKING is more like it!

      • anewfreelife

        Really, Barb? I find that interesting. Is it possible that men just don’t report the post sep abuse the way we do? My mom hounded my poor dad. Took us kids on rides in the middle of the night on school nights and stalked him. Called his girlfriend. Manipulated him. Stole from him. Lied about him and ruined his reputation. I worked with a couple where the woman did the same thing. She had him committed before she left him and thereby ruined his career! She bragged a spouse can have their partner committed against their will. When he finally got his career reestablished and remarried, she stalked his new wife and would do things like leave black roses in the woman’s car. She dropped her kids off at the front door of their house and had them throw the door open, run through the house and out the back door, and back around to her. Just plain weird stuff. My personal experiences may just be highly unusual, but I’ve never seen a difference between male and female perps.

      • That is really interesting to me, ANFL. Thanks for telling us those anecdotes.
        It’s possible that researchers just haven’t heard enough stories from genuine male victims to be getting an accurate picture of how common or uncommon post sep abuse is when the abuser is a woman. I certainly don’t take everything I read as the final word on the subject.

        Stories like those you shared are chilling. And yes, just as weird and bad as the post sep abuse male perpetrators get up to.

      • joepote01

        Barbara, in my case the abuse escalated after the divorce…became more obviously evil in intent…directly involved the children in trying to hurt me…

        The really bizarre part is that she asked for the divorce, then escalated the abuse after the divorce. I had to learn very quickly to draw and defend very well defined boundaries.

        I suspect that, in her mind, I committed the unforgivable act of actually leading a peaceful and happy life without her.

      • An unforgivable sin indeed! It’s funny and sad that she would see it that way.

      • Memphis Rayne

        Ya we left everything, homelessness and starvation would of served us better. Unfortunatley in our case, after eight years post seperation, okay? Almost 9 now. He just feels more triumphant with his financial victorys, his court victorys, all that he uses as PROOF to his church allies he has a legal right now to hunt us down……In our case, HE will NEVER stop, he would have nothing else to focus on, even with somebody else in the picture, he is driven by his NEED to prove ten years of ABUSE never happened, while STILL abusing us.

      • taylorjoyyoung

        Barbara, my mother also perpetuated the abuse and stalking for nearly a decade after my father left her. 😦 I don’t think it’s a gendered dynamic as much as it is an abuser / victim dynamic.

    • Jeff Crippen

      HIP – You got it! That is a perfect picture of the typical scenario, especially when it works itself out in a church setting. Good job! And don’t fret. You are outside the camp, out of the visible temple, but you are where Jesus is:)

    • Still scared

      Yes, they have to sob story, ready to tell everyone! How hard they have worked, how much they have tried…but actions don’t match words.

    • Loren Haas

      HIP- I am rejoicing that you are out of that pastor’s clutches! I have heard your story too many times: Churches that put their interpretation of “biblical divorce” above healing your wounds. I guess Jesus was sinning by trying to teach the woman at the well about the “Water”? He should have just pushed her into the well according to your former pastor’s actions. (Never mind that as a women in that culture, she was probably unjustly divorced)

      • I like your black humour, Loren.
        And yeah, I wanna still spell humour like an Aussie.
        Behaviour Colour Favour Savour…
        (see what you’ve done to me, Loren, you’ve made me mischievous)

    • SJR

      Wow you described the nice guy version perfectly!
      It makes me doubt my sanity at times.

      • Kagi

        Yeah….everything in this post iS my dad. sigh

  7. Jeff Crippen

    Barbara – I talked to a true victim yesterday at length. The abuser is her father. The mother had actually called me several months ago. Both of these poor gals – fine Christians as much as I can tell – evidenced not only the fog of what was happening to them, but they both were very concerned that they NOT do anything in rebellion or disobedience against the Lord. They had questions about His will, about what the Bible teaches about authority, and so on. Now, it seems to me that when an abuser is parading as victim, they will claim to want to obey the Lord, but they have absolute confidence that they know what His will is and that they ARE doing it. “I am the husband and father here and God gives me the right to rule my home. But just look at how my wife and kids treat me!”

    A phony victim will very often then be an “expert” on Scripture. They won’t so much ask questions as they will simply make pronouncements and then demand that you agree with them.

    And then a phony victim will not evidence the real pain and effects that we see in genuine victims. A real victim of abuse, EVEN when he or she is at that anger stage you talk about, is obviously suffering from heartfelt pain over it all. They can’t sleep sometimes. They have nightmares and PTSD. You won’t see those kinds of effects in a perpetrator who is masquerading.

    • UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.


      Spot on, Jeff.
      However, I know that many people think that abusers are in deep pain. Writers and commenters on this blog can tell the difference between the genuine pain and the faked pain, but many bystanders can’t.

      It’s not surprising, really. The experts like Lundy Bancroft and George Simon Jnr tell us that the perpetrator’s main game is to get you to pay attention to his pain. Covertly aggressive people are highly skilled at faking emotional pain and drawing other people’s attention to it, to deflect attention from the wicked deeds the perpetrator is actually doing.

      This is one of the reasons why as victims we find it so hard to disclose. We think “I don’t want to be a whining person who draws attention to my own pain; that’s exactly what my spouse does! I don’t want to look like him. And I certainly don’t want people to suspect that I’m putting it on, like he is. If I tell people my spouse is faking all that pain, maybe they’ll suspect I’m faking mine too! And then they’ll condemn me even more!”

      Damned if you do; damned if you don’t.

      • MeganC

        Barb…. That counselor of mine would often say, “YOU are in good shape, Megan, because you are trying to follow the Lord. Imagine how ‘Dan’ is feeling….he is in sin and so he is miserable. You ought to feel sorry for him.” The confusion was stifling! Not only did it seem “OK” for Dan to abuse me, but I was then to feel sorry for him, as well? The reason he gave was to “keep me from bitterness”.

      • Uugh. I’m sucking air through my teeth, just reading what Meg wrote.

      • Still scared

        Spot on Barbara!! Yes, it was hard to “point fingers” so to speak, because he points all the time, it’s always my fault but I did need to say truth!

      • anewfreelife

        Yes! Yes! Thank you for saying that! I felt that way for soooo long.

  8. BIT, the frostbite analogy is great. I don’t have much knowledge of frostbite, but I heard a story the other day of a woman who got multiple lacerations on her fingers (down to the bones) because she put her hand into the blades of a running lawnmower. In the hospital, no amount of morphine touched the pain. But they said to her “That’s a good sign: it shows that your nerves weren’t cut by the mower blades.”

    I think that in recovery from domestic abuse, anger can be a sign that the the veils of false guilt and self-blame are lifting and the survivor is seeing what has really been true all along: that her abuser is a wicked calculating person who has deliberately been trying to destroy her life. (reverse the genders for male victims)

    ANFL suggested difficulty in accepting help as another mark of genuine victims. That sounds pretty correct to me. The exception would be if the help was offered with truly no-strings-attached AND if it was exactly the type of help that the victim needed and could accept at the time.
    For instance, if a trusted friend had offered to come and mow my lawn (or just come and done it, without even asking me) I would have accepted the help with gratitude. But if a neighbour said “Can I take your daughter for a day to give you some time out?” I might have said no, because the custody case wasn’t finalised and if my daughter had told her dad that “Mummy’s not spending time with me; she sent me off to the neighbours for a whole day! ” he would have tried to use that against me in court.

  9. “How about just the look of weariness due to the insomnia and nightmares? A fake victim isn’t going to have those signs at all.” (from ANFL)
    I think that could be a pretty good sign, but let’s not forget that abusers can fake or induce that wrung out look in themselves. For example, I know of one abuser who after his wife separated from him, went on such long fasts that his clothes were just about falling off him. I guess he would have looked haggard and worn from lack of food. Like many ploys of abusers, this one got two birds with one stone. He achieved a haggard look that helped him look like a victim, and he made out he was holy by doing such intense fasting!

    I’m also remembering an abusive man I saw at his contested custody case wearing a really old sweatshirt with holes in it. His wife (who I was supporting) told me it was the most ratty old sweater in his entire wardrobe.
    We’ve probably all see criminals dressed up for court; with some of them, it’s the only time they wear a suit. Dressing down for court might be a ploy of some abusers.

    • anewfreelife

      Yep, you’re right, Barb. I should retract that. I remember him doing that during the marriage. I’d completely forgotten.

      • Memphis Rayne

        OHMgosh YES!!! When he was out of the house due to his abuse, he would starve himself, to appear as if all the life was leaving him just like WE did!!!! The last time we saw him, EVERYBODY kept saying how BAD he look…….I at that point just thought to myself “YA well this is like the 10000 time he has looked that way”” Even when trying to divorce him, he on purposely “”went out for a smoke”” then had some sort of “”attack”” and paramedics were called……of course everyone was looking for some sort of reaction from me, “”got none”” he was fine, one of the security officers who had dealt with him before, having to escort him from the court house during an outburst after losing a contested restraining order hearing, the officer came up to me and said he saw all, rolled his eyes and told me “”Better luck next time””, he said “” the smoke from the cigarrette must of just been too much for his feable body”” lol he laughed and walk away, of course he was being ironic, my MIW was by nature NOT a small statured person.

      • Mama Martin

        My husband fasted and looked bad – but unlike Jesus’ command in scripture to do it in secret, everyone seemed to know. When a neighbour commented that my husband did not look good, the pastor has the knowledge to tell her “He wants to look that way.” He also has chosen to be ‘homeless’ – living out of his car, bunking in first with friends and then our children – rather than be responsible and rent or buy himself a place. His work has been very irregular as well – all signs of how much he is ‘suffering’ over my decision to set a boundary and the decision that I would not live with him.

      • Yeah, I’ve heard of many abusers living out of their cars to get sympathy mileage. I heard of one who put up a tent on the railway verge near the family home, after his wife got him to leave. Some abusers would rather do that than go to a homeless men’s house, or a rooming house, or couch surf with friends or family, or get themselves a cheap apartment.
        My first husband always got a proper roof over his head when I wasn’t with him, but he seemed to make a point of not getting basic furniture, to make himself look hard done by. No kitchen table or bench or chair, for instance.
        And never a phone. That was a point of honour, not to have a phone when he was single. He said he hated getting the marketing calls, but really I think he just wanted to remain socially inept and proudly isolated.

  10. Song

    Healinginprocess reply nailed it on the head for me! These statements are exactly accurate for my situation: “The abusers paint themselves as a noble person trying to work things out with an unforgiving, uncaring, hurtful person.” and “He also tells people I never communiate with him and that was what really hurt our marriage. That is not entirely accurate I tried for a long time it was never heard. After a while I did stop communicating because it fell on deaf ears so it was not worth wasting my breath.”
    Paula”s points are also accurate and Jeff S.’s statement “Abusive people can learn and mimic whatever they need to to get what they want…” is accurate as well. My abuser recited to the counselor almost word for word what I told him I was feeling and experiencing, but he was saying that was his experience and feelings. I think the lengths the abusers will go to to manage their images for the people they want as their allies are varied, but Dr. George Simon, author of “In Sheep’s Clothing”and “Character Disturbance”, does a good job of exposing their tactics.

    I’m so thankful for you all and this discussion.

    • Still scared

      Song, yes, when they twist what you have said and it’s now what is true about them! That is the weirdest thing to have your experience robbed form you. You know it happened, yet he is now claiming roles reversed and you have to, especially in the beginning dig through and find the truth, but who will believe you.

      • Mama Martin

        That is one of the hardest things – when you finally have the courage and knowledge to speak up despite the danger – you are not believed.

    • Jodi

      I know this is kind of an old thread, but I am just now reading some of the newer comments. My husband is just like this -but he has done this “look how much I do without” thing when we were still together. His job moved him to Va. and paid for an apartment and would have paid for furniture, but he refused to get any- I mean, none! He slept on an air mattress( and still does)- I had to make sure he had basic kitchen supplies. He would stop eating dinner and lost a lot of weight. He was always trying to get us to visit him, but I refused because he had nowhere for us to sit or sleep. Finally one time when my son had a LaCrosse tournament in the area- we had to stay there for economic reasons. HIs roommate found out we were coming and he went out and got furniture for us. His roommate did something for people he had never even met that my own husband wouldn’t do! He seemed unphased by this.

      • Jeff Crippen

        Exposed for what it really was. An act. Good lessons learned!

  11. Still scared

    I thought of another one: abusers find scripture and quote it to justify their actions. Victims wrestle with scripture, desire to know god and be right in His sight, to follow Him, not just to prove something. Not that we don’t use scripture to show truth, but not just that, we have wrestled and sought the heart of God.

    • anewfreelife

      Thank you, SS! That’s a great one. We fear God and fear making a wrong move. We question and wrestle while they seem to just presume to know the mind of God.

    • Memphis Rayne

      yep him “”ME DOG WHO RETURN TO VOMIT”” in other words he was justified because he cannot help to like vomit “”YOU, DRIPPING CONTENTIOUS WIFE”” in other words I am the cause of him liking so much vomit. 🙂 ME smilin now.

      HE verbally abused me with scripture, if God was right about ME then he was not going to go to Hell for anything. Geez if that came of harsh sounding, well then I guess maybe it is, because my experience WAS!!!

      • Memphis 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Healinginprocess

      Really good point Still Scared. Despite our recent divorce my abuser did and still texts or emails me scripture he feels I should read justifying how I am wrong…even one of the elders and the pastor in the church I had been a member of have given me scripture proving I should not divorce my husband. I on the other hand have read and wrestled with scripture seeking God’s direction for myself and my children. What people don’t realize we have not left our abusers hastily and without much thought…most of us have wrestled with this along time. Your right..”Not that we don’t use scripture to show truth, but not just that,we ahve wrestled and sought the heart of God.”

  12. Barnabasintraining

    That is the weirdest thing to have your experience robbed form you.

    That’s a great way of putting it. I have been involved in conversations where essentially that same thing was done to the victim. The valid accusations she had against him were hijacked and used against her. That all by itself gets me seething. It’s like some sort of play ground bullying tactic.

    • anewfreelife

      Oh, well said! Yes, have definitely felt that weird feeling.

  13. joepote01

    Good post on a pertinent topic, Barbara! …and lots of good comments, thus far!

    Like Jeff S, I am cautious about lists of defining marks of an abuser, because abusers tend to be very good at deceiving and at imitating the role of a victim. I suspect that Jeff and I may be more cautious due to gender stereotypes…or maybe I’m stereotyping.. 😉

    At any rate, to me (and I’m no expert) the primary defining mark of an abuser is a sense of entitlement. It may not be obvious, initially, and they may conceal it for a while, but it eventually shows itself.

    By entitlement, I mean that fundamental perspective that others owe them something. No matter how badly they’ve violated their marriage vows, no matter how badly they’ve hurt their spouse, child, or other victim, they are still firmly convinved that they are owed unconditional eternal love and respect. They see love not as a gift given as an act of grace, but as something inherently owed to them.

    • Still scared( but getting angry)


      • Song

        Yes, the entitlement. It’s really unnerving.

        Still Scared(But Getting Angry) – I like your transformation! 🙂

    • MeganC

      Jeff S and Joe — I see what you are trying to say. It is, I believe, very important that all of us are able to share our experiences and similarities. It builds camaraderie and helps us all to know that we aren’t crazy (as our abusers would like us to think! “He did that to you? Oh my word! I experienced the same thing!”). At the same time, you are right in that we need to keep (as our foundational assumption) the fact that abusers are, in essence, entitled.

      In substance, I used to describe my ex as “Jello” (this is before I realized he was abusing me and before I really had any vocabulary to articulate what was happening to me). He could mold himself into whatever he needed to be, momentarily. He watched and mimicked whomever he needed to watch and mimic in order to be convincing to me and others…. In keeping with the Jello simile, there was nothing substantial to grab onto, if you got close enough to reach out. So, while we all may have some similarities, not everyone’s “Jello” always fits itself into the same Jello mold, although they all do share one identifying mark — entitlement.

      • anewfreelife

        I love it, Megan! That is wonderful!

      • anewfreelife

        I woke up this morning thinking of one more, and you just touched on it here. It is the reaching out and sharing, building camaraderie. You are important to me. I pray for you guys. I worry about some of you. I feel close to you. I feel understood by you. Now, I know there are so called Father’s Rights groups where obvious abusers try to join arm in arm, but those sites look different, feel different, sound different. My abuser seeks out only those he can use. He surrounds himself with enablers where he is the sole victim, the center of attention. While they may create groups where they can bash and share techniques to learn to be better abusers, we seek out relationships with those who have walked our walk. We seek camaraderie, that intimate relationship in friendship of understanding and being understood. That concept seems to escape them.

      • joepote01

        Very well stated, Megan!

      • Song

        ANFL, I think you’ve identified a very good difference – “We seek camaraderie, that intimate relationship in friendship of understanding and being understood. That concept seems to escape them.”

    • anewfreelife


    • Joe, you said:

      Like Jeff S, I am cautious about lists of defining marks of an abuser, because abusers tend to be very good at deceiving and at imitating the role of a victim. I suspect that Jeff and I may be more cautious due to gender stereotypes.

      That’s a good point, Joe, and one I think is valid. I don’t think you were stereotyping. 🙂 I’ve got another post in the pipeline about this topic, which I think you’ll find interesting. Oh for more time!

      • joepote01

        Looking forward to it, Barbara!

    • Just Me

      Joe – Agreed. OR entitled to forgiveness since they said “I’m sorry” even though they’re not truly repentant at all.

      • Mama Martin

        Absolutely correct – and it comes out in actions, not words. The words can be oh, so good, but then the actions…….

      • Healinginprocess

        Joe and Just Me I Agree. They expect they should be forgiven without true repentance. They are good at making themselves look repentant to outsiders who do not understand abuse. My abuser just asked me to go to church with him…I said No. He replied this is the season for forgiving and I have forgiven you for the things I feel you did to me. His way of saying I forgive you so you should forgive me especially since it is Christmastime. Forgiveness takes time and is a process God brings us through for our own good…the seeds of bitterness do not take root and grow into ungliness…it is not a blanket quickly given and then your over and past what has happened so relationships can be quickly restored. People forget forgiveness does not equal restoration…can’t have restoration without TRUE repentance.

  14. anewfreelife

    Respect is a reasonable expectation. That you are questioning it and concerned shows that you are not feeling a sense of entitlement. 🙂

    • joepote01

      So true, ANFL!

    • Belle

      (((hugs))) Thank you.

  15. Belle

    So the topic of entitlement brings a question to my mind. What is the difference between entitlement and reasonable expectations? I expect my thoughts, feelings etc. to be listened to and taken into consideration. I don’t like to be ignored, sneered at, spoken to in a condescending manner, or later my thoughts portrayed by him as his own original thoughts.
    Do I have a sense of entitlement on this?

    • MeganC

      Belle — I think you might be referring to a more covenantal sort of expectation. I think you and I and others give freedom and love to those who cross our paths. We don’t expect for the world to be kind (it has proven to us over and over that it is often incapable — and certainly incapable without Christ). When a kid at school is cruel to my child, I am not shocked. Kids can be cruel. However, when you enter into a covenant, that is (in its essence) setting an expectation. Now, after making a covenant, we have an expectation. We say we will honor our spouse — we have pledged and promised to do so. Sure, we will fail now and then, but we have now TOLD a person that we will honor them. An expectation has been put in place — OF OUR OWN CHOOSING. Entitlement means that an abuser believes he or she owns the other person — that that person is devoid of very basic human freedoms. Does this help?

      • MeganC

        Yes — exactly, Belle! Love and honor….and choice. When we make that covenant, we are choosing to make that covenant. A slave has no choice. And we, being born of promise and not under the law (Gal 3), are free to make that choice to honor and respect each other.

      • Belle

        Thank you. Yes, you are right. There is an expectation put in place at the beginning of the covenant.

        Recently I heard a husband say something like his wife belonged to him and visa versa. It hit me as all wrong. I see in the O.T. that masters owned their slaves (but even they were told how to treat them, and the slave that ran away wasn’t to be returned to his master.) But the covenant between husband and wife contains none of the language of a slave/master relationship. It is one of love and honor.

    • joepote01

      Belle, the difference, as I see it, is in the fairness or equality of expectations. I expect both myself and my wife to treat each other with love and respect. I also expect each of us to let the other know if we feel we are being treated with less love and respect that we should be.

      An abuser, however, acts as though the marriage vows to love, honor and cherish are optional for them…or like they are doing someone a huge favor if they choose to abide by their vows. At the same time, they expect their covenant partner to fully live out the covenant vows, no matter how badly those vows have been violated, abused, and misused by the abuser.

      God always uses covenant as an opportunity to bless and enrich. He certainly has expectations of His covenant partners, but God always gives more than He expects in return.

      Satan uses covenant as an opportunity to enslave, abuse, and destroy. He gives only superficially for the purpose of manipulating, deceiving and entrapping.

      Abusers behave in a manner similar to their “…father, Satan, who was a murderer from the beginning.”

      • Belle

        I’ll be thinking about this. Thank you so much

  16. aspen

    This is the type of post that is very useful for someone who is looking to learn about abuse – what it is like, how it works out in the “mess” of real life. Although I understand Jeff S and JoPote01’s concerns about lists and how they can become “the be all and end all”, so if something occurs that isn’t on the list, people disregard it. However, it is a great starting point. So for a pastor (or family member) who is confronted with abuse for the first time, who is trying to make sense out of two totally contradictory stories that both seem “true” because both sides believe they are telling the truth (and the abuser sure looks like he does), something like this post is very, very useful to try and distinguish between the two. Thank you.

  17. Mama Martin

    It is so, so difficult to tell the victim from the abuser because abusers are such good chameleons – adjusting to and meeting the expectations of others. It one of the skills they have as manipulators while the victim is just floundering. Victims make mistakes that they pay for hugely because of lack of knowledge or distrust of themselves. For me, the major sign to look for (to distinguish a victim from an abuser) is – Whose actions line up with their words? Are the actions of the victim the actions of someone trying to discover the truth, speak the truth, do what God wants? Or are the actions seeking pity, help, empathy, social support against someone else? As has been mentioned, victims are often reluctant to receive help or even to tell of needs because of previous damage and hurt. Often victims need to fight for independence and useful help comes only without expectations attached.

    • Spot on, Mama M. – Whose actions line up with their words?
      That is one of the best questions to divide the sheep from the goats.

  18. Healinginprocess

    Barbara I know you thought you posted this post prematurely but is has been incredibly helpful to so many
    of us…God’s timing is always perfect.

    • Thanks, HIP.
      Wouldn’t it be nice if all my/our mistakes worked out so well?

      Hey, maybe I can pass the buck to God whenever I mess up, and just say to anyone who gets ticked off by my messes, “God will work it all together for good!”

  19. clarissasmusings

    This is Nyssa; the system made me use my WordPress account to comment. Wow, I come here after a long absence and find a whole blog post because of a comment I made… 😉

    Some of the comments here are especially familiar. The sense of entitlement from the ex-friends: I kept apologizing for what sparked their rages, while to this day they insist they did nothing wrong and will not apologize. I wrote the various stories which led me to see them as abusers/NPD/BPD, and about all the pain and anger the abuse caused; their response was, “We got a good laugh” at my writings, and accusations that I am “not all there” and wrote “false facts” and that they have a right to sue me if I go to my priest/church/community for help. They talked like I was just a gossip with a vendetta, rather than an abuse victim with a thirst for justice. I saw evidence that they represented me this way to one of their friends.

    I was expected to do everything they wanted. They, on the other hand, just shot down whatever I wanted. I was supposed to just “deal with it” if their actions upset me. And they got very upset that I would tell my husband what was going on. Their words to me on the day of the rage episode were, “Don’t go crying to [my husband], because we don’t need the headache.” Now they’re very upset that I told my story publicly.

    I have anger because I know I don’t deserve all this. I need the knowledge of personality disorders–even if undiagnosed–to help keep me from internalizing their accusations. It is a daily struggle: The thoughts keep coming back, am I imagining all of this, are they good people whom I’ve falsely accused? I wrote my story not just to get it all out, but to remember, keep it all straight, keep false nostalgia from luring me into going to them with apologies yet again.

    I also worry sometimes because, before I had a chance to tell my priest about their threats and accusations, so I could get his help and counsel, they went to him and told him their side. I don’t know what they said, because it is, of course, confidential, and I couldn’t hear it. Though I caught what sounded like “self-righteous.” My husband called it “poisoning the well” because I go to this church, they don’t, but they seem to have wanted to turn even my own priest against me, make him doubt what they knew I was about to tell him. I hope he can tell the difference between the fake and real victims. I have been going to my priest with this problem ever since the abuse first began several years ago, though until now, I kept it very vague and brief.

    My abusers knew that if they started coming to my church regularly, I would go to the priest for help, because in such a tiny church I couldn’t tolerate being so close to my abusers all the time. So they threatened me with a defamation suit and poisoned the well…oh, and said they were going to start coming all the time. They didn’t carry either threat through, but they do read my blog every week. I told my priest everything, just as I said I would, but they can’t sue me for that. Empty threats. There is also a criminal conviction against one of them, for choking his daughter; I see it as proof that I’m not the crazy one, that he really is violent and I have reason to feel my safety is threatened.

    • Nice to hear from you again, Nyssa. You’ve got some pretty determined abusers, by the sounds of it. Your husband’s phrase – ‘poisoning the well’ – is very apt; many abusers do this. They try to win over the victim’s friends, family and support network by spreading slander and misinformation about the victim, to diminish the victim’s chance of being believed. So glad to hear your husband is standing with you.

  20. Jenny Jolly

    Wow. I just found your site. I left an abusive marriage 5 years ago. He was on staff as an assistant “pastor” at the time. I am amazed at all the parallels I am reading. There truly is nothing new under the sun, is there?

    • Welcome to our blog, Jenny. Great to have you here. An abusive husband having the title of Assistant Pastor or Senior Pastor is indeed not new to us. We have a number of readers and people in contact with us who are, or have been, married to such men. Hope to hear more of your story, as you hang around here. Sending you a welcoming (((hug))) too. 🙂

    • Jeff Crippen

      Welcome Jenny! Nope, there’s nothing new when it comes to evil, and the abuser is probably the most perfect example of evil to be found. You aren’t the first to join us here who has been married to one parading as a Christian, or even as a pastor. Read on and be free!

  21. Now Free

    I just came across this post and can relate to it in a huge way. Thank you, Barb. In my experience, after I finally left my abusive husband, he sent out letters, phone calls, etc. telling people I was unwell in mind and body, and apparently even suicidal, etc. I haven’t lied about him, and find it difficult to tell others about his abuse, feeling that shame and blame will be heaped on me.

    I just want to move on with my life but the legal wheels have been grinding very slowly. He’s been so dishonest that it’s resulted in a standstill. One thing I’ve tried to do is be the best person I can, and that means having a close relationship with God, trying to help other abused victims, hopefully staying healthy by eating well, walking ( the weather will get milder soon!), dressing and keeping myself neat and well-groomed and just not looking like a victim. People might say to me “You look good”, but that doesn’t mean I am not suffering. Maybe my abuser is putting on a huge front to try to have others think that he is the victim but that’s his business. I don’t want to stoop to his level.

  22. Anne

    This has really encouraged me tonight. Two years ago, (after 20 years of trying to figure out what was wrong, trying to get help and being told it was me, and finally finding some good books that gave me the answers I’ve been desperately begging God for), I woke up. I’ve spent the last two years beating my head against a wall with church pastors, elders, and professional counselors who keep telling me I’m assuming things and making a mountain out of a molehill. Exactly what my “nice” husband tells me regularly. My husband is a covert, verbal abuser. As in, EXTREMELY covert. Super nice in every way. But never wrong about anything. Never sorry. Everything, and I mean everything, is always my fault. I’ve been told I’m surely exaggerating, etc.. The last counselor we went to (me ‘dragging’ him) told me I was an angry woman and needed to deal with my anger before my husband could deal with his issues. I left the room weeping – and those two men quietly and nicely watched me walk out. I’ve also spent the last two years getting stronger. Leslie Vernick has coached me for 9 months. Because I’m a fighter, I really struggle with self-doubt. Maybe it IS my fault? Maybe I AM making a mountain out of a mole hill. Maybe if I just overlooked and let things go – my husband wouldn’t feel threatened and would love me. When I read the title of this post, I clicked over with FEAR. Fear that I would discover that I am a pretend victim. That I am the real abuser. My husband has told me that I am. I’ve gotten so angry I’ve sworn. I’ve yelled. He would never swear. He’s too nice. (He does yell, but only when I “drive him to it.”) I’ve wanted to kill myself more times than I can count over the years. I’ve also prayed God would take my husband’s life. I know that is a horrible thing to pray, but there have been times I’ve felt so low I couldn’t see any other way out. Now I know I have choices. Hard choices, but choices to either stay or leave. I’m looking into a legal separation. I know I will get more flack from my church (guess what church I go to…!!!), and I still fight the feeling that I am the bad person – destroying my marriage (I was told that by a helpful elder) and “beating” my husband with words. (They are words of truth, but because my husband can’t accept any kind of feedback, they are seen as “beating” words even though they are simply my telling him what hurts and asking him to stop.) It is hard to stop believing the lies, but it is websites like this that I keep reading that remind me of the truth and give me courage to keep moving forward. I have a friend who is abused in much worse ways than I am. Our church is doing next to nothing to help. They refuse to discipline any of these men – but encourage all victims (women) (including ones with broken bones) to forgive and be “like Christ” for the glory of God. It honestly makes me want to vomit. This is the first time I’ve ever left a comment on a blog like this. Honestly, it scares me to do it. But as time goes on, I’m finding myself braver, and I like it.

    • Anne, WELCOME! It must have taken a lot of courage to submit this comment! Brave you! Well done!

      You are not to blame. You are not the abuser. It is not your fault. You are not crazy.

      I’m glad you have found Leslie Vernick’s coaching helpful. 🙂

      Thank you so much for sharing here.

      When I read the title of this post, I clicked over with FEAR. Fear that I would discover that I am a pretend victim. That I am the real abuser

      is so exactly the way all us survivors have thought. You put it so well into words. Fear grabs us when we read a title of a post. Fear grabs us when we get a letter in the letter box. Fear grabs us when we go to a DV support service, or phone a hotline. Fear grabs us when _____ [fill the blank] . . . so many things can trigger us into panic! Thank you thank you for saying it how it is! Bless you and hugs abundant and looking forward to more comments from you!

      If you would care to share with me privately what church you go to, email me at barbara@notunderbondage.com. But no pressure. 🙂

    • Seeing Clearly

      Dear Anne, I am currently reading through older articles that were listed on a post last week. These are informative, instructional, enlightening articles. The fear factor that you mention resonates with me. Adrenalin surge, second guessing…. We are walking the road together, which gives me courage. Thank you for leaving your comment.

    • Cher

      Oh my goodness, Anne, I feel for you on so many levels…my husband is the nice guy too…I’ve gotten so angry I’ve sworn and all he would do is tell me, “are you even a Christian, talking like that?” in a smooth calm voice..

      I attended a Reformed church in which the women were no help to me whatsoever.. I’ve had so many women try to “fix” me for my “wrong” thinking about how I should be treated in a marriage (we as women are to be submissive and obedient, no matter what (according to them))..one woman in my church tried so many times to get into my business and I only gave her vague answers “we’re fine” “everything’s okay”. She finally got tired of prying so just went to her small group and said that we needed prayer for our marriage….even got her husband to try to pry info out of my husband….even started a meal schedule for us so that people could bring us food….so she could put me off guard like she was being nice so she could get information……lol….and when I called her out for doing so…I was told I was taking it the wrong way…one woman told me to sacrifice myself on the cross like Jesus did (for my marriage) when I was pregnant and was getting no compassion from my husband who said I was faking…. and when I complained of a bad financial decision my husband talked me into (not completely his fault, I could have said no, but was distracted with a baby and his pressure on me to make a decision) the women’s answer was “Well, he’s your husband.” and just shook their head, as if there was no other answer….there’s many more examples…

      I know what you mean…about being brave..I’m feeling braver every day…..I was also told by counselors and the pastor in our church that I needed to change…I was even told I had a “track record of disobedience” because I married someone the pastor didn’t want me to…as if that’ was his choice…I finally stopped going 3 months ago. So far, I haven’t officially departed (I’m a member) but I don’t feel I can officially retract my membership without being bitter and angry, so I’ve held off…but people and the pastor are starting to notice I’m not there…and calling and writing notes in the mail….I know I will be shunned…my husband still attends….he hasn’t said anything yet…

      I also still find myself wondering if I am the real abuser….if I’m the ones who is wrong…my mom has been a strong influence in helping me not stay in the cult….she and my dad are Christians too but I live in a different state.

  23. IamMyBeloved's

    Hi Anne – Well let me take a stab in the dark and guess the kind of church you go to is either a Family Integrated or a Reformed of some type.

    BTW, I think that the majority of us have had fear, just as Barb said, wondering “Is it ME?” Most victims of abuse have heard that for so long from their abuser, they just doubt themselves all the way around. Abusers masquerade so very well. It is hard to break through all of that, but with time and God’s abundant grace, you will stabilize in the truth. You are not crazy.

    So glad you came over and joined us here!

  24. Cindy

    So what about our kids? Can someone point me to some references on children developing a personality disorder after living with a narcissist? I’ve found books but most are on adults. My pre-teen daughter is really struggling with many issues and my younger daughter seems ok. Yes, she has emotions but not to the extent that my eldest does. I know people are hard wired differently and that is certainly at play here but my eldest needs help and refuses to talk or self-examine.
    Eds. Note: some specifics edited to disidentify the commenter.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Cindy- I’m not sure if it would be exactly what you are looking for, but you might try Lundy Bancroft’s book, When Dad Hurts Mom: Helping Your Children Heal the Wounds [*Affiliate link].

      *Amazon affiliate link — ACFJ gets a small percentage if you purchase via this link.
      • MeganC

        Cindy — I also like to use George Simon’s “Character Disturbance”, as well. Although written for adults, he does address raising children who are showing signs of entitlement, which happens often with children of abusers. There are a lot of ways to apply that book to raising kiddos.

    • Also Cindy, you may find Deborah’s post Teaching Children the Ten Commandments of Character helpful.

      But some kids are so determined to resist becoming responsible individuals who recognise the rights and needs of others, that we can not change them. Don’t blame yourself if you are in this situation. Your child may simply be choosing to be stiff necked and selfish.

  25. Juiness

    The searching, the questioning, -This describes my process almost to a “T” I have often wondered if my reaction to the abuse i suffered was also a form of abuse towards my spouse. I questioned (and sometimes still do) If I was really a victim. It helps me to understand that abusers rarely have self-reflection and probably wouldn’t question their behaviors. This gives me some relief because I probably wouldn’t even be questioning myself if I was also an abuser. One thing my counselor said to me that made a lot of sense was that the difference between abuse and acting in unhealthy ways is motivation. when someone’s motivation is to control you than that is abuse. She helped me see that my behavior wasn’t a form of control (not saying it’s right) but rather to protect myself.

    • Hi Juiness
      can you please read our Info for New Users page? It has tips about how to help guard your safety while commenting on this blog. Re being careful with the screen name you use, being careful not to have links embeddded in your gravatar, etc.

  26. Ann

    An abuser trying to pass as the victim:

    Blames everything on the victim.

    Runs out to / makes it his mission to recruit allies (including her own family) by out right lying, casting doubt, twisting facts and rewriting history about the victim.

    Punishes the victim by abusing further through the legal system, or any other form of abuse not previously used in their repertoire– financial (withholding funds, removing access to accounts / establishing accounts with only their name on them, lying on tax returns, running up debt) stalking, disrupting at victims workplace, turning the children against the victim, etc… (they may have been doing these all along too).

    • Ellie

      It seems to me that there are 2 dominant ways (unhealthy ways) to deal with our sin.

      1) We can say, “Sure I was wrong, but I NEVER would have done ___ if YOU hadn’t ___.” This is shame dumping (aka projection) and blame shifting. It is not taking responsibility. It is not repentance.

      2) We can say, “I am a terrible person and I should live in a cave.” This is looking to ourselves to fix the problem; living in a cave to keep ourselves from messing up and hurting others.

      In my experience, abusers choose A and targets choose B. But as we get healthy and learn to take our mistakes to Christ, we understand our need for Him and His grace. We acknowledge wrong, we repent, we learn to do right because we love Him.

      • MeganC

        That’s wisdom, right there, Ellie.

  27. Tanya

    With sociopaths because they do “lovebombing” and idealize, devalue and discard, things can seem to be going along very well, then all of a sudden they will devalue you from out of seemingly nowhere and you have no idea what happened, it makes no sense. One day they are nice as pie, taking you out, buying you gifts and the next day they are a completely different peson. This happened with my ex fiance of five years, I thought things were wonderful then he would devalue me out of nowhere, would manufacture problems, mainly a lot of “triangulation” pathological lying, we would break up then he would come back a few months later and “hoover” me back in and the whole process would start up again. He did this for fun, for five yrs. It wasnt until the relationship ended for good that I started reading up on narcissists / sociopaths. For five years I had no idea what was going on, and the pastor and most people at the church we attended thought he was wonderful. I had no way of explaining his covert abuse of me, it made me look crazy and There was never any physical violence either. I have severe ptsd because of his abuse, but I find most people either minimize it think im exaggerating or just dont believe me.

    • Cher

      Tanya, I am sorry you experienced this abuse in your life….My husband can be the same…every once in a while, there will be a day or two where we really “connect”…talking, coversation, maybe he even apologizes for how things have been….he’ll say he wants to take me out and will bring home a cake or a soda for me (rare treats I don’t have every day, my own decision). Then all of a sudden, it’s back to silence, or putting down my cooking in some way or another, criticising something I’ve done…..or giving me dirty looks if I eat or drink “his” sodas or snacks…just like you said, everyone else thinks he is a great guy….

      I feel bad for even talking about him….I feel I don’t want to cause him harm or hurt him the way he’s hurt me…I see him as a person…but I don’t think he sees me the same….I understand how you feel about other people not believing you….people minimize and when they meet him, they simply can’t believe he’s a bad guy because he doesn’t show it to them.

  28. Mary

    I found this to help me sort out the situation with my husband. He has always had the victim mentality and fooled our church counseling pastor by forwarding partial text messages and incomplete and out of context conversations. I still doubt myself and my perceptions and regret my reactive behaviors during the years that I was trying to make things work. 5 Differences Between a TRUE VICTIM & FALSE VICTIM of Narcissistic Abuse [Internet Archive link]

    [Note from ACFJ Eds: The article in the link seems good, other than that it alludes to ‘karma’ once — so we’re happy to endorse it with this caution. We are not endorsing the whole site as we haven’t checked it out.] /em>

  29. Valerie

    I’ve been mulling this topic over recently and I’ve noticed a few things from my experience and others I’ve talked to. Abusers claiming victimhood may refer to their wives as “my wife” instead of using their name. In public forums where they don’t want to be identified this would make sense and when speaking to someone who wouldn’t know their wife’s name it would also be natural. I’m referring to instances like joint counseling or when speaking with people who are known to both husband and wife. This is a tell tale sign of emotional detachment. It can also betray their entitlement mentality in that they enjoy being able to speak of their spouse as “my”.

    The other issue I’ve seen is a lack of specificity with the purported victim in his recollection of the abuse. He often does not go into much detail but speaks in generalities. If he claims the abuse he’s actually inflicted as the abuse he’s been afflicted with, his account will have an odor of scripted-ness. It may sound like he is repeating words (because he actually is).

    The troubling aspect of all this for me is the communication differences between men and women. Men typically don’t express emotion to the degree that women do. This may appear to be detachment and thus they may be perceived as not being genuine.

    • I have heard that facilitators in well-run Men’s Behaviour Change Groups insist that the men in the program use ther parter or ex-partner’s real name whenever they refer to her. It is a rule for participating in the group. If that rule were not enforced, the men in the group would always refer to their partnters by using a derogatory label or a swear word, and would never use the woman’s real name.

  30. imsetfree

    I don’t know what to feel about this. I’m not trying to invalidate anyone`s experience but I had a parent who was emotionally, verbally and occasionally and rarely physically abusive.

    From age of about 18 months of age to my late 20s when I was strong enough to leave. I suffered sexual abuse outside my family. More than once. I never blamed myself for the abuse. I always felt the injustice of what was going on.

    I did hate myself, was full of shame, self harmed since age of 12 and had trouble making eye contact or forming relationships and questioned my own worth but I didn’t question what was happening was wrong up until my mid 20s. I had a breakdown and then I was filled with questioning myself obsessively. Maybe I DID deserve it. The sad thing is I had just become a Christian at this time. And was concerned because I had a lot of behavioural and mental issues as a child which caused me to be a very difficult. I was suffering from the beginnings of what was eventually diagnosed as Borderline PD and OCD so I was very angry, narcissistic, insecure, neurotic, a little diva.

    So as I repented before God for my sins I felt convicted that maybe a lot of the abuse was my fault. In fact it got to the point where I began to think my dad couldn’t have been an abuser. Even now it is only remembering that my mum and sister got the same abusive treatment that makes me remind myself that yes, the abuse really happened and didn’t make it up. I had been told my parents that I wasn’t really abused and my mental and physical illnesses were just faking for attention.

    I am still recovering from this and feel very vulnerable still. So it is possible to be abused and not be a self effacing person or blame oneself. I did have a therapist though who believed my shyness, shame, self doubt and self hate was subconscious self blame but that it was so buried deep I didn’t know its cause.

  31. imsetfree82

    I do think though that people like my sister who tried to honour God from an early age was more of a “real” victim than me. More deserving of help. And receiving more compassion from God. Because I was such a nightmare to my parents growing up. Yeah I was abused but do I have a right to see myself as an injured party when I was a bad kid and a bad teenager. People say give your hurts to God but I find that so hard. Because I know in His eyes I wasn’t really a true victim. I pushed my dad to do those things to me. Because I didn’t know how to behave and didn’t want to know God until my mid 20s. And the abuse was still going on then.

    Sure God forgives my part in the abuse and I know He does have compassion on me as His child and a sinner. Finally I can see Him as a loving father. But I cannot see Him having the same level of compassion towards me for the abuse I went through. Not all of it was my fault but some of it was. I don’t deserve the title victim or survivor in some ways but I need the support of services meant for real victims / survivors like my poor sister and mother

    • Misti

      The thing is, even supposing you were a horribly difficult child, that does not make it okay for someone to abuse you.

      People are always responsible for their own actions. You are not responsible for others’ actions. You may have some culpability when you intentionally provoke someone, but that does not make you responsible.

      Like, if my friend startles me by touching my neck, I might hurt her out of reflex. She would be responsible for the action of touching my neck (particularly since she knows it’s a DON’T for me), and I would be responsible for having hurt her.

  32. em

    Thanks for differentiating. While reading your other blog about abusers pretending to be victims, it definitely sounded like my parents who constantly tell people how “crazy” I am and what a bad daughter I am / was. OTOH, I thought “Crap. Now if I tell people what happened to me, I’m going to sound like an abuser playing the victim!”

    One thing I have noticed to be true: The abuser almost never leaves the relationship. They do sometimes use pretend abandonment to scare the victim into complying, but they aren’t serious about it.

    It is the victim who finally figures out what was happening, and walks out for good.

    Anyone looking at a situation from the outside should consider this. Did one person finally leave the marriage, or ask their parents to exit their life for good? (or otherwise end a relationship) Abusers rarely let go of their “supply”.

    Funny enough, I’m not even angry. I’m not running around telling all of their friends and family members how they really are. I don’t care. I just want these people out of my life and want to be left alone.

    • KayE

      While it’s true that abusers don’t often leave the relationship, sometimes they do.
      So although it might be an indicator, this method of identifying the real victim isn’t foolproof, you still have to look at the whole picture.
      I tried to leave many times without success, but in the end it was my abusive ex who suddenly left. He never gave any explanation. I suspect he’d had legal advice to leave before he got himself into serious trouble with the justice system.
      It can be really difficult for outside observers to understand the situation because abusers are skilled deceivers. The most important thing is to not believe the lies yourself.
      You’ve obviously come to that place, great.

      • I agree, KayE.
        I’ve heard a few stories of abusers leaving their victims, and in quite a few of those cases, the victim who was recounting her story said that she thought her abuser left because he sensed that the Law was about to catch up with him. The Law meaning the cops, the courts, or the sheriffs who were chasing him for dozens of unpaid fines.

    • Hi em, welcome to the blog 🙂
      We always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

  33. Resonated

    This article really resonated with me. It felt like a rough outline of the last few years. He’s told me so many times I have Borderline and he never owns up to anything he does. He always turns it back on me or starts crying so my maternal instincts would kick in. Luckily my maternal instincts are what got me out of there.

    I left while pregnant and I’m still fighting a custody battle for that young child. He actually brought up my mental health history in court. Thank you for this article. It’s one more step on my recovery.

    • Hi dear sister, I changed your screen name to Resonated and airbrushed a few of the details in your comment — for you safety.

      If you abuser found this site, we wouldn’t want him to identify you, esp while you are still fighting over custody in the courts!

      Welcome to the blog. 🙂
      We always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      If you want us to change your screen name to something else, just email twbtc.acfj@gmail.com

  34. Anon

    Thank you.

    I left an abusive relationship of nearly a decade years and since I left have spent months ruminating about his accusations that I was the abuser and his accusations that I didn’t try to make the relationship work, that I cheated on him and that I left him for a sugar daddy… His viewing my blogs and websites, declaring on his social networking site that he was a victim and totally devastated and caught unaware…leaving threatening “gifts” at my apt, stealing things I left outside for others…destroying my work…setting me up to seem like a crazy person by calling me and hanging up only to answer my return call in front of his friends and pretend like I was the one harassing him…texting me lewd messages and emailing me accusatory emails at midnight… I could go on and on

    Basically I am still having trouble deciphering the reality of it all, even after years of therapy and research to try and heal my “crazy” so our relationship could be better. Even after professional after friend after family member told me I was in an abusive relationship. Even now, after months of being with the kindest man I’ve ever met & seeing what being loved back looks and feels like.
    I don’t know what to think about it and I feel so many different things.
    But reading article after article from your site helps me to see that maybe my gut and my head are right and maybe if I can know that my heart one day is going to follow the truth.

    • Hi Anon, welcome to the blog. 🙂

      We always like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      I airbrushed a few details from your comment, to help protect you from being identified.

  35. Cher

    Wow…I started reading this fearing that I wasn’t a true victim….but as I read each paragraph, those were exactly the steps I’ve gone through. I have, perhaps, been hindered from reaching the stage of anger because of the abuser-enabling church I used to attend. I have felt angry….at him….at the fact that I have ended up marrying someone who is like that….

    I questioned my worth last night, which I haven’t done so far in our marriage / relationship, or in my life…. because I’m strong and I have a strong mother who supports me and has always told me I can do anything in life….I’ve doubted myself before…but I’ve never felt like I had no worth…until last night……. my husband, who daily ignores me, doesn’t listen to me when I talk, and barely responds when he has no other choice but to hear me or when he thinks the night will end in sex….he did what he does every so often. I told him I was going to bed. We have children and I needed to get some sleep before the baby woke up because I work full time during the day. I decided to give him a kiss because I usually don’t. I usually can’t without him becoming rough and pulling me to him……so I gave him a kiss and I went to go to the room but he grabbed my arms and pulled me back and said, “I miss you”. while looking into my eyes, which he rarely does.

    His definition of missing me is sexually. He otherwise pays me no attention, we don’t even have conversations. He doesn’t like to be with me, he puts headphones in whenever I’m around….watches movies with headphones……. wait, he does pay attention to me…. but only if he can put his hands all over me (ALL over) and roughly kiss me and put his arms around me while I’m trying to do something else (like wash dishes or cook) so I fall all over the place, he puts me off balance……so anyway, I asked him, why are you doing this? Do you like to hurt me? I won’t have sex with someone who doesn’t talk to me. I’m not doing it. I’m not just your booty call. “I begged him for so long to spend time with me, to talk to me…to LOVE me….but I have always been chasing after him….I have even had nightmares in the past that I am chasing him and that he has left me…..His response to me last night was “Don’t. Don’t do it. You’ve given up.”…..I just stared at the wall.

    He never takes responsibility…it is always MY fault…. so I went to bed, feeling like I’m only wanted for sex and that’s all I’ll ever be….I don’t know what it’s like to have someone who actually wants to talk to me….talk about the weather, talk about the breakfast we’re eating, talk about music, life….our dreams and goals….I am completely shut out….except for when hormones come calling him…and he feels the need to release them…

    • Nancy

      Thank you Cher for describing to a tee what I have struggled to explain. My marriage ended after well over 30 years- years of believing it was my fault, of being angry and feeling guilty for that anger, of saying no and feeling ashamed, of knowing I was worthless but questioning why. It’s called gross neglect- emotional abuse by means of making it clear you are nothing in his eyes and giving you just enough doubt to keep you hanging on.

      Never mind the church teaching that we are to stay no matter what. When I finally forced a separation I was unable to give a name to what I experienced. Numerous people asked if he hit me. In their eyes my separation was a sinful reaction if he didn’t hit me.

      Your story is mine. God bless.

  36. Christine

    This is exactly what my daughter went through. She even went to four different counselors trying to prove that it really was her fault and she needed someone to tell her what she needed to do to save her marriage! And she was so concerned about how they knew she was telling the truth. I remember telling her that the difference between her and her EX was that she looked at her wrongs and that her EX could NOT see that he did anything wrong. I also said to her that the things that she did that was wrong were never reasons to end a marriage. They were just ever day struggles that we all struggle with but his wrongs were destructive and destroying to another person’s being.

    They are who they are and if you know what to look for their real motives come through. They cannot hide their motives of self-righteousness and self entitlement.

    No contact with her abuser has been the most helpful practical part to her healing process because she is not constantly exposed to his poison.

    It was quite sad how he went around acting like the victim and all of his enablers supported him. Whereas my daughter crawled [curled?] up into a ball and could not even function. The abuser became extremely active and empowered to destroy.

    Our trial really has strengthened our faith even though it has been extremely painful. There has been a lot of good that has come out of this trial for our family. We have all grown in wisdom, in balancing God’s truth and taking in His whole counsel. It has been humbling and exposed many things in our own hearts.

    We have a living hope because we worship a living God and our God of hope breathed back into my daughter the very breath of life. She is stronger spiritually. You know I really believe that an abuser cannot destroy everything in a believer. My daughter may have only had a emblem of hope left but in the hands of an all-powerful God, all things are possible.

    God bless you all as you continue to heal and have victory in Christ.

  37. Anon2

    When I finally learned for myself that I have been being abused, it was very eye opening. When I started talking with a few close friends about what I felt was happening, I was very surprised by the almost negative response. One friend in particular would wince and shake his head every time I pressed the issue. Finally, I asked him why. He said he was worried about me labeling myself that way because it was victimizing myself.
    My response, “You don’t understand. I have been a victim of abuse for a long time (8 years). Finally learning what is happening is empowering me to not be a victim anymore. I now know his behavior is wrong and I can finally stick up for myself.”

    • Jeff Crippen

      Hello Anon2 — welcome to the blog. 🙂

      We have changed your commenter name for your safety.

      We like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      And after reading the New Users’ Info page, I suggest you look at our FAQs.

    • MarkQ

      My family and old church friends would acknowledge all the facts, but they refuse to call it abuse. Something about that word put it over some cliff. For family, I’m sure it was that they would have to come to terms with their own negative experiences in the same way I did. For friends it somehow put them in this place where they had to acknowledge their passive role watching us be treated that way without them intervening. Surely they would have intervened if it were abuse, right?

      I’m about to visit one of these friends and I honestly don’t know what to do if the subject of my family comes up. I’m pretty sure it will, and he was in a position not only to observe how we were treated, but to do something about it.

      • Thank you Mark Q. Your words here have given me more insight into why people flinch at the word ‘abuse’. They also flinch at the terms spiritual abuse / domestic abuse / domestic violence / family violence …

        I’m on a FB private page at the moment in Australia where lots of Presbyterians and conservative Christians are discussing domestic abuse because it’s now a hot topic in Australia since the ABC broke the story about two weeks ago.

        Many of the people on that page are getting really bogged down on whether to call it ‘domestic abuse’ or ‘domestic violence’. Many people are flinching at both those terms.

        And many of them have been decrying what the ABC has done as “an attack on the church”.

        Sigh. So much ignorance. So much resistance to hearing and facing the truth….

      • KayE

        I often find that people react negatively to the words “abuse” or “violence”, especially if they’re not well informed on the subject. The same people seem better able to understand and accept more specific words like “controlling”, “self-centredness”, “dishonesty”, “frightening” or “assault”. I’m not sure why that works, but it does.

      • Seeing Clearly

        Conversations outside of the church seem to understand and accept “abuse” and “violence” more readily, with awareness. It’s often much easier to have a genuine conversation.

        Hadn’t thought about it until now, but I choose my words much more carefully, avoiding those words when telling my ‘story’ of living in abuse, with ‘church people’. That’s a generalized statement.

      • Like KayE, I have found that the people who react to the words “abuse” or “violence” seem to able to understand and accept more specific words like “controlling”, “self-centredness”, “dishonesty”, “frightening” or “assault”.

        If I speculate about why that is, this is what I come up with. The words “abuse” and “violence” have been used so much (rightly!) by the secular folks who have been addressing domestic abuse / domestic violence for decades now. And the feminist movement has been the most active in that space. Feminism has been demonised by conservative evangelical Christianity. So when people in the evangelical community hear the words “abuse” and “violence” their brains snap and their neuronal pathways immediately jump to the inference that I am FALSELY ALLEGING abuse or violence …. just like all those pesky feminists have been doing for years.

      • Raped By Evil

        Anon2 and MarkQ, your posts reminded me of this one somewhat–struggling with labels or how we feel about things now that we realize that we HAVE been abused and that WE ARE victims…….Words I Choke On (or used to anyway).

      • KayE

        Even with Presbyterians, sigh.

      • KayE

        Barbara— I think you’re right about the “brain snap”. These people automatically jump to the assumption that any complaint of abuse is a false allegation, or at the very least it’s an exaggeration. I wonder if that’s caused not only by their distrust of feminists, but also their entrenched views that men are just inherently more reliable and believable.

      • Yes, that too KayE. Especially in church circles.

      • Jeff Crippen

        KayE – I think that this brain snap jump is also widely caused by the fact that many male abusers are the ones who are teaching about these things in the churches, writing books, serving on church boards, etc. It is my opinion that abuser friendly cultures are often instilled in churches through commonly accepted structures such as “men’s ministries” and “men’s retreats.” (Ironically often the same thing is happening through false teaching in women’s ministries and women’s retreats.) “Poor John. His irksome wife is giving him a hard time again. Making a big deal out of nothing.”

        And then you have other elements in such church climates. For example, the repeated and repeated and repeated teaching that “Marriage is hard. We must work at it.” I can tell you that I have been married for going on 50 years and I have NEVER had the thought that “marriage is hard.” I don’t think my wife has either. We are both Christians. The love of Christ is in us. Our marriage relationship is not a struggle. And you know, that is exactly what the Bible says about Christians relating to one another. We have been taught by the Spirit of Jesus to love one another. Imperfectly at some points of time, yes, but repentance and forgiveness flow from the Spirit. It is “natural” for a Christian. What I am getting at is that the first question I would ask any married couple that is consistently “struggling” in a “hard” marriage is, “ok, so which one of you isn’t saved?”

      • Lily

        Could it be partly that using the words ‘abuse’ and ‘violence’ suggests that perhaps one should call the authorities and get real help, whereas all the other nicer words are more conducive to keeping things within the church, covering up, minimizing, and spiritualizing the problem away? Makes sin-leveling easier?

      • KayE

        I don’t think I’ve ever heard the “marriage is hard” story from non-Christians. It always seems to be used in the context of criticising people who get divorced. For a victim of abuse that’s a bit like being a victim of famine and being told by well fed people, “We all get hungry sometimes”.

      • Bravo KayE! You hit it out of the park with this.

        For a victim of spousal abuse to be told “Marriage is hard,” is a bit like being a victim of famine and hearing well fed people say “We all get hungry sometimes”.

  38. Momof3blessings

    Long-term lurker, have read hundreds of pages here and am very grateful for this blog.

    However, your last post here, Ps. Jeff, has compelled me to post myself for the very first time. I am in shock that you would write this, and do not think you would actually say this to a couple in real life.

    Because you will never get a useful answer to that question if abuse is involved in the marriage. The abuser will posture about how holy he / she is, and the victim will accept the blame and promise to be better.

    Neither will fathom the point of your question, and honestly it is hurtful to me as a survivor of decades of marital abuse to imagine how it would have felt to have had a pastor ask me that back when I was still trapped in the marriage by my devout belief that divorce was always against God’s will.

    I think it is so hurtful to me because your question implies (1) that one of the spouses is in the wrong, because they are unsaved, and of course this has to be either the husband or the wife, one of the two you’ve just asked this question to; (2) that the underlying problem with the marriage is therefore this: that one of the parties is not a real Christian, which means that (3) – and this is the really insidious, hurtful implication – that the marriage would / could be saved if the unsaved spouse would just become saved.

    But that’s not possible in an abusive marriage. There is no hope for the marriage being saved, ever, because the abuser will NEVER understand that he’s not saved, and the victim will always, as she has been brainwashed to do, accept the responsibility for what has gone wrong in the marriage.

    Can you see why this question would be so triggering to someone whose abuser spent years convincing them that they were the fault of everything wrong in the marriage? If you’ve not lived in it, Ps. Jeff, you cannot comprehend how both the victim and the abuser would immediately respond to your question by assigning full blame to the victim for not being Christian enough.

    It devastates me to read this question even now, years after getting free, and I’m having trouble imagining you really wrote this, and am hoping you would never really ask an actual couple that. Thank you for allowing my voice to be heard.

    • KayE

      Momof3blessings, I’m waiting for Jeff’s reply too, and all of our situations are unique.

      Just speaking for myself, if I’d been asked that question years ago I would have found it profoundly freeing. Yes my ex would, and does, insist he is the real Christian. “Pseudo Christian” is the word he used for me. His pastor, family, friends and many other people in town all agree with him about that, and they hold me in contempt for the terrible way I supposedly treated him. But my faith is very sure. I did tell the pastor and his wife there was no way my ex could be a Christian. They scoffed at me. My ex did spend years convincing me everything was my fault, and mostly I did believe him. There was just one thing he could never take from me, my faith in Christ. And that is the thing that has kept me and brought me through the years of abuse and out the other side.

    • Dear Momof3blessings, I’m sure Jeff will respond to your comment.

      Since this is your first comment, I want to welcome you, and thank you for voicing your point of view. 🙂

    • Jeff Crippen

      Momof3blessings – I am sure that if you were with me in person and I presented that question, you would be able to understand my point. For those of us who are wise to abusers and abuse and their tactics, I would very soon be pointing my finger at the abuser as the unsaved one. Yes, I can tell. I would not use the question in a way that would guilt the victim, but in a way that would validate and vindicate her. “And guess what, Mr. Smith, Thou art the man! You are the unsaved one here.”

      Now, if I were dealing with a marriage in which there was no abuse as we define it, but rather ongoing, day after day trouble, holding grudges, irresponsible and selfish behavior, etc, then my question would still be the same. Because here are two people who are simply not “getting along” and yet they claim to be Christians. That does not square with what Scripture tells us about the nature of Christians as new creations in Christ. Someone, or in some cases perhaps both of them, are not born again.

      Yes, this requires wisdom and discernment. We need to be able to spot an abuser and as we all know, we are not going to be doing couple’s counseling in such a case. But I certainly would narrow the sights down onto the abuser with that question – “Which one of you is not saved?” And when I had everyone’s attention, I would follow it up with (as I said) “Thou are the man, Mr. Abuser.”

  39. Momof3blessings

    The problem with that, Ps. Jeff, is that in nearly all cases the victim still has to go home with the abuser after your dramatic pronouncement. Unless the victim is in a position to leave the marriage, the abuser will make sure that he / she pays mightily for being denounced like this.

    I’m not saying you’re wrong to label abuse as abuse. Not at all. But please recognize that it can actually be dangerous to do so in the way you’re describing. Certainly say it in your head, and fantasize about being the one to dramatically confront the abuser with the truth, but be very very careful to not actually say it to an abuser under circumstances that can make the victim vulnerable to even more abuse once they are out of your sight.

    Instead, focus on supporting the victim in recognizing the wrongdoing of the abusive partner as the actual abuse it is, privately and away from the abuser. And on helping the victim realize that divorce because of a pattern of abuse (including emotional and verbal abuse) is valid Biblically. As you’ve described so well in your book and this wonderful blog, the fear of displeasing God by divorce is a HUGE impediment to Christians trying to get free of an abusive marriage.

    Also, I know you are aware that some of the couples who come to you for help with what seem to be merely the everyday problems of immaturity and selfishness are in actuality hiding the abuse quite well, especially if the abuser has successfully convinced the victim that the problems are all her / his fault. Unless (and occasionally even when) there is obvious physical violence, many victims do not see their mistreatment as abuse, but as simply what they deserve for not being a good enough spouse.

    This was certainly true in my case. It took me over a decade after I got out of my long-term abusive marriage to even see his mistreatment as the abuse it was. I recognized that his actions were harmful to me and our children, but until a year ago I thought that if I had just been a better wife and person and Christian that I could have saved my marriage. And I’ve felt tremendous guilt for many years that I couldn’t.

    I think that’s why I reacted on such a primal level to the idea of you point-blank, first-thing asking a couple in a difficult marriage which one of them isn’t saved. Because it is such a black-and-white question, it not only implies that one of them isn’t saved, but that if both were saved they wouldn’t be having these issues. When it’s not at all that simple. Abusers won’t change, and EVEN IF THEY DID it wouldn’t matter, the damage is already done, the soul annihilation too complete.

    So honestly I do not think this is likely to be a helpful question to ask aloud. For me, anyway, it would have been devastating for a pastor to ask this at any point in my marriage, and is still hurtful to me now. Maybe it’s because I’m still too wounded to not personalize it as automatically being my fault, so others might respond differently, and I respect that. But I feel you would want to know the effect your words may unwittingly have on some of us who have lived in the special hell of an abusive marriage.

    Thank you and God bless the work you are doing.

  40. minagelina

    Didn’t get through all of the comments, lol! Wow, such a good topic. I think it’s hard to come up with a #2 if it’s not in real life. You see comments like Barbara mentioned all of the time online, in book references and such. But we only get a snapshot in these situations and can’t see if there was a build up or anything beforehand.

  41. misssecret

    Thank you so much these posts about abusers saying they are abused. I have them bookmarked, and I’ve been reading and rereading. Worse than the abuse was being told that I was crazy when I tried and tried to address it. And now that my husband has left, he has told everyone that I abused him. It’s truly made me question whether I can trust my own mind, and if I could be so wrong about what has occurred that I have it all backwards and I am abusive. Your posts are like reading a synopsis of my life over the past few years. They have helped me believe in my judgement and start to get disgusted and angry. And disgusted and angry feels much better than feeling crazy, hopeless, and worthless.

    • twbtc

      Hi Misssecret,

      Welcome to the blog!

      We like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      And after reading the New Users’ Info page, if you haven’t already I suggest you look at our FAQ page.

      Again, Welcome!

  42. OE

    I have not been abused. I’m here because I am the friend of many abuse survivors. Sadly, years ago, I did not understand anything about this and wrongly counseled some of my friends to stay, counseled them with scriptures. I am ashamed of that. I want to thank all of you for the articles and for telling your stories. It is helping me understand where I was wrong and how to help my friends who are currently going through abuse.

    More recently when Friend A began revealing her husband’s abuse, I believed her because her account made sense of disturbing things I had begun to notice.

    Sadly, when Friend B revealed her husband’s long-term abuse, I was stunned for days. I had no reason to think she was lying – she had never lied to me before. I initially believed her. But it was so hard. How could such a fine Christian man be guilty of what she was saying? She had a plan to leave. She said that none of her children would believe her because he had been very careful for years and years to hide his abuse from them. He was / is calculating – sinister.

    Friend B’s husband “got to me”, and I started believing him. (He was very convincing and twisted – causing no end of heartache to her and sucking my family into the vortex – almost ruined our marriage.) Thankfully, after helping Friend A and educating myself on the devious ways of abusers, I now know that Friend B has been telling me the truth and her husband is a calculating, thorough, accomplished liar – so sinister.

    It is because of hearing and reading the heartbreaking accounts of precious folks like my first friend & you all that I now see it. When I realized how wrong I was, it really tore me up! (And boy am I furious with him, but won’t say a word to him about it.) Why didn’t I see it before?! I have repented to God and to Friend B for abandoning her, and she has so graciously forgiven me, and I am now “in this” with her, being very careful for her sake.

    I am so glad for this website! Thank you!

    • Thank you so much for your comment! Wow.
      What you have said is so encouraging to us. May there be more bystanders like you who wake up and truly support the victims!

      It does look from your comment like you are already aware of how to guard your friends’ safety when commenting here. But you still might like to check out our New Users’ Info page.

      And after reading the New Users’ Info page, you might want to look at our FAQ page.

      I changed your screen name to OE, as the name you had given might have worried or triggered some of our readers. If you want us to change it to something else, just email TWBTC (The Woman Behind The Curtain) Her address is twbtc.acfj@gmail.com.

  43. In the Thorn Bush

    I, too am in a relationship with someone who is abusive. It has been about half a dozen years of abuse with it getting worse every year. Not so much physical, but a lot of emotional and silent abuse. But I guess what I am concerned with is that I am at a very angry point and I am also almost at the leaving point.

    Is it possible for me to start acting like an abuser? I am in such a mess in my mind and I am so upset and angry with how it [the abuse? the pattern(s)?] keeps repeating that I now tell him how awful he is being…sadly not with some of the nicest words. I am just so over going through the same thing again and again. I feel like it is me trying to establish boundaries, but they are never acknowledged and I feel like my world gets smaller every time.

    I know the cycle so well it like a broken record, right down to when I ask a question what he will say and how he will react.

    My other question would be is my anger normal in this situation as I have not left?

  44. Christine

    I’ve had so many counselors, pastors, friends, and family accuse me of being the abuser because that’s what my husband wanted them to believe and any research I did to make sense of and label the abuse was met with so much contempt. It wasn’t until a few years into the marriage when I discovered his sex addiction. Did anyone take me seriously?

    All the advice I had been given up to and after the [that?] point enabled his behavior, sense of entitlement, and justification. When I finally found counselors that practiced the trauma model, I then learned about therapy-induced trauma. I even had a counselor tell me that if it takes our family living out of a car for my husband to learn from his financial mistakes and begin to include me in such matters, then maybe that’s what had to happen. I was so shocked I couldn’t think straight. The next session, after I had some time to really think about it, I told her that I disagreed and her advice did not include what I should do when social services came to take my daughter away because we live in a car. This counselor, like all the others assumed the problem was me. They decided this without listening to the full story and any education I tried to arm myself with and present seemed to only confirm their assessment.

    It still pains me! But as much as it pains me, I do think these experiences have made me more empathetic to people going through difficulties even if I haven’t gone through their experiences. I can at least empathize with the fact they are in pain, need validation, and allowed to be in pain.

  45. Anonymous101

    I don’t know what to do. I never called police because I was afraid. He abandoned kids and I, and I did everything he wanted. No lawyer signing away rights to keep kids safe. I was later accused of everything under the moon. When my attorney told me that I needed to quit protecting him….she didn’t get I was protecting kids. She convinced me of typing things that happened. First time I had to face things. The more I wrote the more I felt stupid. I felt like how could I have not seen certain things?

    I still feel scared. I tried to explain to kids’ attorney, but she asked for dates and I couldn’t remember. I just thought if I told her everything she wouldn’t believe me. She asked for evidence and police reports. I was asked, if I knew he harmed animals why I got more. She told me that I needed to go to counseling because if I am scared and have anxiety when I am around him, that it’s my issue. I get it but I’m scared for a reason. My kids are also scared. They only talk with me because I guess we went through stuff.

    I was asked if he abused kids. I said no. I began to look up things to make sure I wasn’t crazy and if so many people believed him maybe I was [crazy] and couldn’t tell. That is when I learned about different things that had happened and he had been emotionally abusive to me and kids. I’m always scared because now he makes claims and I don’t know how to prove I’m innocent. I have started to try to have a policeman at exchange but he went to court and said I’m traumatizing kids. So I can’t anymore. I don’t know why I’m sharing but maybe someone else will read this and know that they aren’t alone.

    [Paragraph breaks added by editors for readability.]

    • Hi, I am not surprised you still feel scared. He’s still abusing you: he’s using the legal system to abuse you, and he’s falsely accusing of lots of things. And he has abused you and the kids for a long long time already, and he did it so covertly, by emotional tactics that were really hard to see because he did it so incrementally.

      It is not your fault. You are not to blame. And the lawyers who have told you what to do are not counselors who are well trained in how to gently interact with victims of abuse to help them recognise the abuser’s tactics. Nor are they trained in how to respond to victim’s disclosures about some of the tactics that the abusers use.

      For example, the lawyer who asked you why you got more animals when the abuser had already harmed animals. That question might have been said in a tone of voice or with a facial expression that made you feel like you were stupid for getting more animals. But there was probably a good reason or several good reasons why you got more animals. Maybe the kids wanted you to get more animals….or maybe the abuser subtly coerced you into getting more animals…. And I’m guessing that at that stage you were in the fog that the abuser had created by his coercive control. So in the fog you may have not realised that he was emotionally abusing you and the decisions you made were being manipulated so much by him – his tactics of coercive control.

      Welcome to the blog. 🙂 I changed your screen name to Anonymous101, for your safety. I am pretty sure that some other reader will feel less alone after reading your comment. 🙂

      I would like to invite you to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting at this blog. And we also suggest new readers look at our FAQ page.

      I also recommend the work of Don Hennessy. It will help you get more insight into the ways your abuser has treated you.

  46. witheringrosebloom

    As my mom is finally leaving her abuser (my dad), she has told me numerous times that she’s “not even angry” “I just want it to stop”.

    After having left an abusive marriage of [almost two decades], it took me a long time to move beyond grieving (the sadness, numbness) and to be “angry”.

    When she called me to talk about this, I told her, “You still have an enormous amount of grieving to be done: For your marriage, for your children ([most] of us have either perpetrated or been victim to IPV), for the years you stayed (time lost), for the relationships you gave up (abuser isolation), for the income you gave up (because of getting a job and then having to quit because of abuser jealousy or evidence of physical abuse), it’s a long list. And grieving is not linear. You have to give yourself time. You will get angry. You will, and that’s ok, I’ll be here for that too.”

    [Paragraph breaks added to ensure readability. Some details airbrushed for safety and protection. Editors.]

    • Welcome to the blog Witheringrosebloom. 🙂

      Since this is your first comment, you may be new to this blog. If so, you may want to check out our FAQs and our New Users’ Info.

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